Not only did I watch two of my top three favorites (Madison Keys and Petra Kvitova) lose today on day 7 of the 2016 US Open, it was like watching the same match twice. Keys and Kvitova are two players with power, skill and tremendous serves. Unfortunately, those strengths are often negated by their propensity to commit unforced errors. Against a lot of players, they can get away with mistakes. Not today. Not against Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber. Styles make fights, as the saying goes. And for Maddie and Petra, there are probably no two players who are stylistically as much of a problem for both of them (well, maybe Agnieszka Radwanska). In her pre-match interview, Keys said she knew she would need to be patient but then went out and just tried to blast away as she does against everybody. That spelled 33 unforced errors for Maddie to only 7 for Caroline. Granted, Keys also hit 30 winners to just 12 for Wozniacki, but the problem is when you hit that many unforced errors, they will undoubtedly come at crucial points. They did. Same for Petra Kvitova. Although she didn’t try to rip the ball in half with every shot like Keys, Petra’s 43 unforced errors to only 8 for Kerber were the reason why Angie is moving on the quarters and Kvitova is not.
I give all due credit to Angie and Caro. They played smart tennis. And it leaves me wondering what is next for Petra and Maddie. I’ve said for years that Petra is the most skilled player on tour. When she is on, she can beat anybody…including Serena Williams. Check out last year in Madrid. And even in this match, during the second set, there was a stretch when she looked to be climbing back into it, hitting shots for which Kerber had no answer. Angie was even getting visibly frustrated at one point. However, the inconsistency crept back into Kvitova’s game eventually. I have said over the years that when Petra puts it all together she will be world #1. But it’s been year after year of me saying that…I wonder if time is starting to turn against her. Maybe it will never happen. I worry that Madison Keys might be the next Petra Kvitova; all the talent to be the best player in the world but all of the inconsistency to prevent it from happening. Thomas Hogstedt is a great coach. It seems Maddie’s natural inclination is to avoid long rallies. He has to get her trained to play 20, 25 even 30 shots in a row. She will rarely ever play that many shots in a rally, but the training will help her deal with players who just get the ball back into play and wait for Keys to make the error. That’s really all Alison Riske and Naomi Osaka were doing. That is going to be everybody’s playbook against her. She has to take that option away from opponents. If she can do that, I have no doubt the rest of her game is good enough to be a future world #1.
ALL PICS CLICK TO ENLARGE
2 ANGELIQUE KERBER d. 14 Petra Kvitova, 6-3 7-5
ANASTASIJA SEVASTOVA d. 13 Johanna Konta, 6-4 7-5
7 ROBERTA VINCI d. Lesia Tsurenko, 7-6 (5) 6-2
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI d. 8 Madison Keys, 6-3 6-4